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The Man Who Saved Britain: A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond Paperback – October 2, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312426666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312426668
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,376,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this glittering gem, Winder (publishing director at Penguin UK) combines cultural history, memoir and a terrifyingly formidable knowledge of James Bond plot lines to produce a hilarious and thoughtful narrative of the fall and rise of Britain from WWII to the present day. For a nation that had owned a quarter of the world but post-1945 was losing its possessions, Ian Fleming's masterful creation, 007, was its savior. Bond—quipping, killing and bedding all the way—put villainous foreigners and their sinister assortment of exotic henchmen back in their rightful place and ensured Britain would retain its top place in the world hierarchy. In reality, of course, the Americans and the Soviets gently ignored the sad little island and went about their Cold War business. But that did not matter, since 007 exemplified the potent fantasy of British superiority in all things. As for the best Bond movie and novel, Winder tilts toward 1963's From Russia with Love, where Fleming's writing reached its peak and director Terence Young coaxed terrific performances out of his actors. Fittingly for Winder, the film's theme is so dated it requires the most explanation for those who don't remember the Cold War. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Simon Winder gives us a rollicking tour through Bondland, [and] expertly captures the knowing blend of nostalgia, sophistication, and plain absurdity that made the Bond books (and later the movies) such a hit in the 1950s and '60s. . . . Entertaining and very funny."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
"Happily, this brilliantly obsessive exegesis on the meaning and influence of the 007 character--part sociological study, part geek memoir--also has a sense of humor about its subject. . . . Indeed, Bond hasn't provided this much entertainment in decades."--Entertainment Weekly (grade: A)
 
"Sly, funny, occasionally sad, a wild mix of cultural history, film criticism, and memoir."--Rich Cohen, author of Sweet and Low
 

"The nimble and witty Simon Winder sifts through Ian Fleming's formulaic 007 books with excellent and often hilarious explanations. . . . [An] enchanting book--social history at its best."--The Palm Beach Post

 

"Winder has an easy journalistic tone, a surprisingly objective take on his own obsession, and an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Bond- and Ian Fleming-related. . . . Witty and intelligent."--Financial Times (U.K.)

 

"Almost ridiculously enjoyable."--New Statesman (U.K.)


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Customer Reviews

I have even used James Bond in the classroom and have met personally several of the Bond film stars.
Dr. Fred R. Eichelman
Even the author seems aware of how boring and pointless his book is as he twice questions whether anyone is still awake after reading up to that point.
E. David Swan
The author repeatedly reminds us not to take his pontifications overly seriously, and that's fine, but in that case, we shouldn't have to be bored.
James McCarthy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Waldo Lydecker on November 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I wanted dearly to love this book. There are too many contradictions in scope and tone to really love it. It is ultimately, merely a good book. Winder gently criticizes Fleming for writing novels to a certain prescribed length, yet Winder's own book feels this way. Winder is in the publishing business, yet his book is badly in need of an editor. Some critics laud the "journalistic" style, but I find it just sloppy and meandering -- an insult to journalists.

Winder has written a personal book as he takes great pains to repeat this. Part of the fun of the book is to quibble with his viewpoint. Honor Blackman does nothing for Winder, but she still all these years later sends me to the moon. However, the personal nature of the book does not rescue the rambling and snarky prose.

I understand that the book was not meant to be an historical or academic text, but the flow would have been greatly improved by using endnotes or footnotes for Winder's many asides, many of which are interesting or at least amusing. Winder's short exposition on the Skatalites is but one example. Important and interesting yes, but it disrupted the flow of his text and argument. Repeatedly Winder begins to say something interesting or states an interesting observation or conclusion, but simply leaves it with me wanting more. Much of the history was apparently very well researched (and Winder is obviously an intelligent and educated man), but much of the learning is lost by overtruncating the analysis and footnotes or endnotes would have greatly helped the exposition of the points Winder otherwise strained to make.

Winder also makes many errors and curious omissions regarding Bond lore.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ilex13 on May 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Best book on mid century Britain and America I've read -- not just for Bond fans!! Wonderful interweaving of personal, political, and historical.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Janis Cameron on June 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For anyone who has an interest in bond and the evolution of Britain after ww2, this book is for you! Simon winder is a very clever and very funny author and though the subject matter is a bit thin, this is an unputdownable read for those interested in its odd subject matter.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Frank Clover on April 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A rambling, formless discourse on recent British history and pop culture and how James Bond (sort of) fits into them. Winder never quite gets around to explaining how James Bond managed to save Britain (nor what he saved it from), but is nonetheless entertaining. Reading it is akin to listening to a slightly intoxicated British fanboy nattering on about every Bond-related topic that comes to mind for three hours.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David F. Mcginnis on August 6, 2014
Format: Paperback
I did not know what to expect with this but got it from the library just for fun. Surprise! It was a great read and much more than I expected. We get the details of what it felt like to be British and watch the sun set on your Empire, and it wasn't good. While the rest of the world put the war behind them and got on to reconstructing the global economy in the '50s and 60s, Britain just kept sinking ever lower. There simply was no good news, a protracted bummer.

Until JRR Tolkien, the Beatles, and James Bond came along. Yes, the three biggies were, in effect, their fantasists. Tolkien harked back to the year 1420, the Fab Four wore Edwardian suits, Bond carried on as though the Empire still existed. It really put things in a new perspective for me.

If you liked this, you might also like http://www.amazon.com/The-First-Day-Blitz-September/dp/0300143354/ref=sr_sp-atf_title_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407332917&sr=8-1&keywords=the+first+day+of+the+blitz
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James McCarthy on December 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The premise here is so engaging that I'm not surprised the author got it published, but basically, it's such a self-indulgent ramble that it's not worth the time of people other than the author.

How can a person make the topic of James Bond and his 'disturbing world' feel so draggy that it takes real commitment to keep reading through the first 100 pages? If you'd like to know, read the first hundred pages of this book.

Like many, I came to this book expecting very little except that it be consistently interesting and fun to read. We're talking about James Bond here after all. The author repeatedly reminds us not to take his pontifications overly seriously, and that's fine, but in that case, we shouldn't have to be bored.

I would strongly recommend not reading this book. It could have been covered in a long magazine article or, as I said, as the occasional comment on a blog about James Bond.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Franks on May 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
James Bond actually features surprisingly little in this dreary book - the author essentially uses Bond as a stick to beat Britain with as he indulges in a vigorous and relentless workout exercising his personal loathing of his own country and its 20th century history. The author has an impressive knowledge of the Bond books/films and their creator, and I have to admit he writes very well (albeit rather smugly), but away from Bond this book is shoddily researched, as evidenced by the numerous factual errors. Not recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. David Swan VINE VOICE on August 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
One of the great appeals of James Bond is his accessibility. The books and movies are specifically created for mass appeal so when someone produces a book with Sean Connery, in trademark Bond pose, on the cover you might assume that this is likewise intended for mass appeal. You would be wrong. It's like James Bond as brought to you by Alistair Cooke of Masterpiece Theater; stuffy and boring. Much of the book has nothing to do with Bond it's mostly just lamenting by the author on the decline of Britain's global influence post WW I. In fact if Bond is supposedly the titular `Man Who Saved Britain' I don't even know how that makes sense since all the author ever credits Bond with is giving Brits a temporary false fantasy about their country's global reach even as it withered. I also don't know why he describes the `World of James Bond' as `Disturbing'.

For the life of me I cannot figure out what the point of this book is. The author doesn't even seem to be much of a fan of Bond. He opens the book by describing `Live and Let Die' as dreadful and pretty much waves away all the Roger Moore films describing Moore as someone with an `odd-shaped head'. This joking about Moore's physical appearance continues through the book which is ironic given the authors moon shaped, doughy head shot on the inside back cover. He shows not the slightest respect for George Lazenby or Pierce Brosnan but regards both of their tenures as complete garbage and Timothy Dalton seems to barely exist but certainly merits no praise. This came out prior to Daniel Craig so obviously no mention. Clearly Simon Winder is a Sean Connery man, right? Connery is described as a, `horrible actor outside the narrowest of ranges' and a `pampered Scots superstar with a limited acting range'. Ouch.
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